Oh, Ronald Reagan. You're 100 years old and dead, and yet you continue to inform the political landscape in ways great and small. Have you appointed a spiritual successor, Mr. Reagan? Sarah Palin, maybe? Kinda, sorta? No? What about this Barack Obama guy, then?
Time's Michael Scherer and Michael Duffy make that case in an essay this week. Though Obama is an "Ivy League lawyer from Hawaii who seeks larger federal investments, a bigger social safety net and new regulations for Wall Street and Big Oil"--and thus not the likeliest protege of government-shrinking, middle-America-loving Reagan--Scherer and Duffy argue that Obama takes as much inspiration from the Gipper as from any of the other 41 guys who have held their job.
"There is no mistaking Obama's increasing reliance on his predecessor's career as a helpful template for his own," the authors write. "Both men entered office in wave elections in which the political center made a historic shift. Both faced deep economic downturns with spiking unemployment in their first term. Both relied heavily on the power of oratory." The two men dovetail in terms of temperament, as well: they're "both loners more than backslappers, both heavily reliant on their spouses, both more trusting of their instincts than their advisers."